by Salil Godika
Walking by a store, you get alerts on your handheld about a new range of products that have come in. Enter the store, use your handheld to scan a QR code and share it with your trusted social circle to get feedback, make an informed decision and walk out with your choice. In case the desired model is not available, access the online store instantly and place the order. What was a vision a few years back is now a reality.
Research indicates that providing a personalized experience can result in even greater sales and brand loyalty. This is where SoLoMo takes center stage for retailers. SoLoMo is the convergence of technologies — social, location and mobile — enabling customers to have a richer omni-channel experience, thereby converting them to strong brand advocates.
Today, you have consumers who swear by the information available from their trusted social circle, search engines that churn out customized location specific results and smartphone applications that enable integration of location information faster than ever before. A combination of all these factors has become a powerful driving force in influencing purchasing decisions. Retailers have to be cognizant of this technology convergence which offers them an opportunity to micro target customers.
SoLoMo helps enterprises deliver a rich and consistent customer experience across multiple touch points in the lifecycle. SoLoMo gives retailers the firepower required for micro segmentation, translating to personalization and product recommendations, served up to the customer based on location and loyalty history. By delivering contextually relevant content through a multi-channel strategy driven by location-specific information, SoLoMo ensures an enterprise is completely customer centric, thereby increasing their chances of success.
The purview of a successful SoLoMo initiative stretches beyond the usual parameters of increased sales. A positive brand experience has the power to snowball into something bigger when the customer shares his or her experiences with prospective buyers. Moreover, if the customer happens to be a brand advocate, then rest assured, the retailer’s base of brand advocates also increases exponentially. Being connected at a personal level also ensures that the feedback obtained is much better channelized into fine-tuning the customer experience.
Today, retailers can gain a competitive advantage by becoming early adopters of SoLoMo. Institutionalizing it involves analyzing huge amounts of data in real time, tracking buyer behavior, preferences and past purchase history and linking it to location and social channels that are most widely used to arrive at a customer connect strategy.
An example of a typical use case: A woman waiting at the airport logs into her favorite retail store to browse through some merchandise. Based on navigation and page view information on the website, trends as observed through previous transactions and current weather, the store is able to arrive at a set of product recommendations. By clubbing information from social media channels on her travel plans, the store is able to tie up with its outlet at the destination and provide a personalized offer with discount coupons based on loyalty tracking.
Although it seems deceptively simple in theory, most retailers struggle to join the pieces of the puzzle, including messaging, promotional offers, consumer requirements, inventory management and customer experience. At the heart of this resides the math-based predictive models created by data scientists and customer analytics that are equally, if not more, important. Without an effective SoLoMo strategy and delivery mechanism, the whole attempt becomes futile.
So why aren’t all SoLoMo initiatives successful, or why do not all take to it? While SoLoMo is primarily technology driven, backed by services encompassing predictive customer analytics, personalization engines, real time and contextual accelerators. Therefore, it requires a thorough understanding of various customer purchasing aspects to be successful. What it needs is a blueprint encompassing technology expertise, process agility and a people mindset. All in all, the plan and integration of the building blocks that make up this initiative are equally as important as the technology itself.
Without a doubt, SoLoMo has enhanced the power wielded by the customer. An organization that adopts a structured approach to leverage the convergence of social, location and mobile will emerge successful.
Salil Godika is the Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer and Industry Group Head of Happiest Minds. Salil has 16 years of experience in the IT industry across global Product and Services companies. His breadth of functional responsibilities include P&L Ownership, Marketing, Vertical Markets Development, Product Management, M&A and Alliances. He has extensive work experience in new business incubation or growth engines from identification to operations. Salil has a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from IIT, Roorkee, and a Masters in Manufacturing Engineering from Boston University.